Protesters, police clash near Bahrain home of Shiite cleric

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates (AP) " Security forces wearing black ski masks clashed with protesters near the home of a prominent Shiite cleric in Bahrain early Thursday, activists said.

They said police fired birdshot and live ammunition in Diraz, home to Sheikh Isa Qassim. The cleric lost his citizenship in June over the Sunni-ruled government's allegations that he fueled extremism and laundered money.

The activists, who spoke on condition of anonymity, fearing reprisal, said several people were wounded. Police did not immediately comment.

A wide-scale crackdown on dissent is underway in Bahrain, a Shiite-majority island that hosts the U.S. Navy's 5th Fleet.

The state-run Bahrain News Agency said late Wednesday that 20 people faced charges in three separate cases over attacks on suspected police informants. It said one victim "tortured" in Diraz later died.

This story has been automatically published from the Associated Press wire which uses US spellings

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